How to find the joy you had when you were a kid

Confession: I still sneak a visit through toy aisles when I’m shopping for my adult life.

It’s always exciting to see what’s new in the modern toy universe as I wonder what it would be like to set that Lego kit loose from its prison of plastic and cardboard.

I rarely buy anything because I’m an adult.  I’m too old for that nonsense and it’s immature. Bills are waiting at home and I need to Swiffer my kitchen.

But wait…..I’m lying a bit here.

That inner voice that tells me you shouldn’t get that is lying too.

I still buy toys like Nerf guns, trinkets for my desk and other weird items.

These purchases usually occur at three in the morning when I’m wide awake, scrolling through my phone trying to find peace in the adult cycle of wake up/work/sleep.

Recently I decided to jump into the Harry Potter universe since I’ve never read the books. I’ve never watched the movies either.

The other morning, while finishing a chapter of the first  book (the part where Harry is shopping with Hagrid), I had a great sense of childish adventure and delight. I loved the feeling of discovering something fun and new.

After putting the book down so I could get ready for the workday, a thought occurred to me:

You become a successful adult when you find the same joy in life as you did when you were a child.

Okay, so how do you find that joy/success?

Get over your adult self:

Perhaps it’s the trauma of realizing Santa isn’t real that made us become cautious with our own imaginations.

Accept the fact that some elements of adulthood aren’t real either, as we see through advertisements and other media designed to trick us into believing joy can be found in material wealth.

Only a few people in this world can afford to buy a Lexus for Christmas, complete with a big red bow parked out front of a $1.5 million-dollar home that looks like a museum.

When we were kids, we found joy near the swing sets and sandbox. There was no price of admission or requirement of high financing.

Get over others

Those who tell you to “grow up” are people who probably yearn for their lost childhood the most.

We often behave in certain ways and sacrifice our own happiness for the approval of others and for what society expects of us.

If someone makes fun of you for obsessing over something you like, whatever that may be, that is not your problem. Their own vacuum of sadness will try to suck the fun you’re having. Ignore these people.

Take a risk

I’m not talking about jumping off a cliff here.

I’m talking about trying things you’ve been cautious about because they’re not geared for adults.

We all have that inner voice that prevents us from doing what we really want. Over the years, that voice has gained power and is fueled by fear of embarrassment and social rejection.

We are afraid to find the same joy we had when we were kids because there is a certain belief that such carefree thought is carelessness. Not so.

I’ll end this post with this great quote from Walt Disney:

“Too many people grow up. That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They forget. They don’t remember what it’s like to be 12 years old.”

See you in the toy aisle!

I just tried the new ride-sharing electric scooters hitting Denver

It’s called Lime-S and you’ll start to see loads of these electric scooters around downtown Denver today.

I geeked out when a coworker told me about today’s roll out, so I downloaded the Lime app, created an account, and quickly found a scooter near my place during the lunch break.

Once I walked up to the scooter, I clicked on the unlock icon in the app. Then my phone’s camera opened up so I could take a picture of the QR code on the handlebars.

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Within seconds the scooter unlocked. It was either my phone or the scooter that made an interesting sound signaling I was good to go.

I headed back to work on the Cherry Creek bike trail from the REI store at Confluence Park.

Lime says the scooters top out at 14.9 mph since most cities have a 15 mph limit.

During today’s ride, the odometer on the scooter flashed up to 16 and 17 mph once or twice along the trail. I tried to kept it at 15 mph the whole way.

I  passed some people on bikes while other people passed me. I got some interesting looks as I glided along the trail.

The scooter itself is very light and gave me a feeling I was 6 inches taller.

Taking even one hand off the handlebars increases the wobbliness of the ride. Gotta be careful with that.

With both hands, it’s a stable ride but I can see cases where people may crash if they’re not careful.

When it came time to end the ride, I opened up the app and clicked on the end ride icon. The scooter made a noise signaling it was locked. I parked it by the curbside so other users could find and grab it.

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I was charged $2.25 for a three mile ride. Worth it?

I think so since it took me only about 14 minutes to get to work from home. I didn’t have to deal with traffic and the weather was awesome.

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Overall, it was a very easy and efficient experience.

You can see the company’s FAQ here. 

 

I had the new Shake Shack green chile cheeseburger. Here’s what it’s like:

The official name of this beautiful bastard is the Green Chile CheddarShack Burger. 

As guy with New Mexico roots who’s had his share of green chile burgers, I happily welcome this new and majestic feast to Denver.

This is gonna sound like a first date with a burger, so let’s make it so.

Before I first met GCCSB, I was invited to a VIP “housewarming” event a couple of days before the official opening of the new Denver Shake Shack location at 30th and Larimer.

It officially opens on March 21st, so I’m among the first people to put my lips on GCCSB.

I knew I was going to meet GCCSB, so I was on my best behavior and knew I couldn’t scream like a little girl when I would first lay eyes on it.

As I walked into the crowded event, a Shake Shack employee was standing there with a tray of GCCSBs, nicely arranged in a row. I grabbed one, sat down, and got to business.

GCCSB isn’t a typical chile cheeseburger. This is different.

The chile is crunchy and isn’t roasted. There’s also pickled jalapeños mixed with the anaheim chile peppers (I’m not sure yet if they’re Hatch chile peppers) along with sport peppers. This gives the burger somewhat of a sweet taste.

It also isn’t spicy. I understand Shake Shack puts vinegar in the burger to bring down the kick, which for me, is *tad* of a let down, but it’s cool.

Was it a bad date? Hell no.

It was great.

I hope to see GCCSB again, and again, and again.

It’s a nice twist from a typical green chile cheeseburger.

But will it be my main squeeze?

Only when I’m here in Denver…..

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A few moments after my first date with Shake Shack’s new green chile cheeseburger, aka, Green Chile CheddarShack Burger. 

The dark that showed me the light

Much has been written about the Dark Side of the Moon album over its 45 year history. There is likely no other album that continues to be dissected and analyzed for its genius and significant influence.

Here is my piece about the album that had an everlasting influence on my taste in music. Call it a love note, if you wish. I adore every track.

The first time I listened to the entire album was sometime around 1992. At age 13, I was bored and alone at home going through my father’s CDs. I heard a couple of tracks already and was a little familiar with two or three of the songs. Money. Time.

I put in the CD into our player, put on some headphones, laid down and hit play. Little did I know this would be the beginning of an intense infatuation with all things Pink Floyd.

Describing how music can compel certain imagery and emotions is sometimes futile, especially since we each experience music in our own subjective and abstract ways. But I’ll try for a second.

Once the first track Speak to Me transitioned to On the Run, I was instantly transported into a different place as electronic sounds and the stereo effect flowed back and forth between my ears and consciousness.

The spacey sounds coupled with the airport announcement voices painted one hell of an image on black canvass. This is art that compels the subconscious to produce images in concert with sound. It’s one hell of an internal light show.

At this moment I fell in love with electronic music. When I play the album today in the same manner, the same images and feelings flood back across a black plane just as they did when I had a moment with music.

So here’s to you Dark Side of the Moon. Thanks for showing me the light!

The Lawnmower Incident – 30 Years Later

When I smell freshly cut grass or hear a lawnmower in the distance, I’m instantly transported back in time to the most traumatic experience of my life. It’s amazing how smell and human memory are tied together.

It was Presidents Day in 1988, exactly 30 years ago to the date of this post.

Sometimes I forget the incident happened. It was so long ago.

Other times, when I sit and really think about it, I wonder how much of an impact the lawnmower incident had on my development and psyche as a child. I recall therapy sessions not much longer after I was let out of the hospital.

I’ve never really written about the lawnmower incident before and I’m not sure why I write about it now. Perhaps the anniversary of that day has me thinking much about what happened.

In short, a friend and I had the holiday day off from school and we were sent to a neighborhood babysitter. A gardener who worked at our condo complex in Harbor City, California would let the neighborhood kids joyride on his big riding lawnmower (the kind that operates like a tank with two handles for steering and acceleration).

While out playing in a grassy area, my friend Matt and I spotted the gardener and of course he let us ride and play.

My friend Matt sat in the driver seat as I sat at the front of the lawnmower over the metal plate that concealed the blade. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I remember trying to jump off and I slipped and fell under the lawnmower.

I won’t go into the gory details. I’ll just say the blades took off my right big toe.

It was painful and traumatic. I went into shock. I recovered pretty quickly.

30 years later, I’ve managed to live life just fine without a toe. I played soccer in high school, ran a half marathon a few years ago and walk and run with no problem.

I keep the shoe I was wearing at the time. A Nike high top. This may seem kind of weird for some of you reading this, but I save it as a reminder of what happened. The shoe likely prevented my injury from getting far, far worse.

The shoe I was wearing during the lawmower incident. It likely prevented my injury from getting worse.

I was lucky when I compare my incident to other lawnmower accidents across the country.

Kids have lost feet.

Sometimes these accidents can be fatal.

This USA Today article says thousands of lawnmower accidents happen to children every year. About 83,000 lawnmower accidents were documented across all ages in 2011.

That’s amazing.

I hope if someone, especially parents, come across this post, they’ll be mindful of the dangers.

Confessions of a nasal spray addict

Hello everyone, my name is Jeremy and I’m addicted to nasal spray.

Yep. It’s a real problem and I’m learning many others have suffered with their dependency on this stuff.

I don’t mean to make light of any addiction with the tone of this post, yet there is an immediate smirk I get from people when they learn I’m trying to recover from the over-the-counter nasal spray.

Perhaps it began early last year when I was dealing with severe stuffiness during allergy season. My wife thinks my problem has been around much longer. She’s probably right.

Empty vials of nasal spray can be found throughout the trail of my daily life. In my glove box. My dresser near my bed. I currently have three in my work bag, two of them empty and one is full. My desk at work has a few plastic carcasses of these things. If these vials suddenly turned into $5 bills, I’d be finding money all over the place.

I can tell you which nasal spray brands are the cheapest, where to find the great deals and what type of bottles have the best delivery. The squeeze bottles suck and don’t’ work as well. The ones that operate like a syringe get the fluid right up there. It’s sad to say, but my addiction has resulted in an absurd connoisseurship of nasal sprays.

When I use it, I receive immediate relief from intense stuffiness. It’s almost euphoric to be able to breathe from the torture of a stuffy nose.

There’s a whole psychological element too. I get anxious when I don’t have a full vial either in my pocket or within an arm’s reach. These little damn vials have become necessary companions to my wallet and keys.

I spray multiple times in the morning when I wake up. In the mid-morning. In the afternoon. The mid-afternoon. In the evening. And always around 2 a.m. or so when I wake up with severe breathing problems. It feels like some sort of gremlin stuffed wet tissue up my nostrils in the middle of the night rendering my nose feeling like a heavy block of cheese stuck between my eyes.

I knew I had a problem when I attended a concert at Red Rocks during the summer last year. I didn’t have my nasal spray with me and I suddenly couldn’t breathe at all. I didn’t enjoy the music and just wanted to get back to a Walgreen’s for refuge.

Finally, my wife convinced me to see a doctor. I went last week and he prescribed me a steroid spray to use once in the morning and once at night. He said it’s a “bedside thing” I should do to begin and end my day.

As for the OTC stuff, he recommended I slowly wean myself off the spray. Instead of doing multiple sprays in each nostril, I should only do one. And then I should start reducing the times I spray throughout the day the following week. Eventually, hopefully, on the third week or so I can stop using the steroid spray all together.

I’m happy to say I haven’t used the OTC stuff at all for three days. My last time was this past Monday while on a flight from Denver to Dallas. I got seriously stuffy on the plane and I used it once in each side of my nose.

I still get stuffy, but not as bad. Every few hours my nose will get a strong tingle, then one side will suddenly get stuffy and blocked. I’ve been resisting the urge to spray and I think it’s working. After about 30 minutes or so, my nose will clear up a bit.

So what can be said about this?

This nasal spray addiction is a real thing, and after confessing on twitter, many other people have told me they’ve suffered too. I’ve received all sorts of support from my followers and recommendations: Saline spray. The Neti pot. Breathe strips. Only spray in one nostril.

 

 
So far, I haven’t had to use these alternatives.

The real test will be when I get back to Denver on Friday. I’m feeling clear here in Dallas, however I may be allergic to something back home. We’ll see.

I should have paid attention to the warning labels on these bottles. You’re only supposed to use them for a few days and then stop, even if symptoms continue. Overuse, I’ve read, can result in severe damage to the nasal cavity and a loss of smell. I hope this hasn’t happened to me. We’ll see.

For those of you who find yourself here looking for relief, I highly recommend a doctor’s visit. The steroid spray seems to be helping.

Good luck.

“Hi Jeremy…..Okay, I have to go now.”

I write this from a hotel room in Phoenix with some time alone to finally process a goodbye to my paternal grandmother. Her life came to a sunset a couple of weeks ago on Thanksgiving.

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My grandmother, Margie Reardon (Nelson) 1933-2017

 

Even though her mind was fogged with memory loss and her failing body was resigned to a bed in a distant Pennsylvania nursing home, I was able hear her voice one last time.

My aunt held the phone close to her bedside. I wasn’t sure if she’d remember me.

“Hi Jeremy,” I heard with familiar enthusiasm. My aunt said she gave a “big smile” as she said my name.

I really want to believe this is the exact greeting my grandmother said to me on the day I met her for the first time at age 5.

I don’t remember much about that day in 1984.

I just remember seeing my father cry for the first time while I was trying to comprehend that this light-skinned woman named Margie Reardon (Nelson) was somehow related to me and that I should call her “grandma.”

The story of how my father tracked her down 30 years after his adoption is for another time. It’s too complex and too long to begin tonight. I know if I started, I’d be up writing until 2 a.m.

I will say her decision to give up my father 63 years ago has a profound and everlasting effect on my own personal identity today. The 17-year-old ranch hand she fell for back in 1953 in New Mexico is a complete mystery. He may have been oblivious to my father’s conception.

I wish I pressed my grandmother more about my father’s father, but those are waters I thought were too dark to explore, especially over the last few years as her memory dwindled.

I often wonder what it was like for her to see her grandchild for the first time that day in 1984……the child of the child she let go.

I had the blessing of seeing my grandmother a few times over my life. She came to my wedding eight years ago. She was the first to greet me after the ceremony with a big smile.

Now’s the time to say goodbye here, through the therapy of writing.

And as I come to a close, I just realized in the paragraphs above I described three greetings with my grandmother.

A day to reconcile a birth.

A day for a wedding.

A day to acknowledge an end.

“Hi Jeremy,” are the last few words she said to me. I’ll remember them forever as a beginning and an end.

I take comfort in that greeting and oddly, what she said immediately after:

“Okay, I have to go now.”

I understand grandma. It’s okay.

 

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My grandma at my wedding in 2009 

 

 

 

 

Don’t click on this link about gun control, because now is not the time.

How could you click on this link?

Shame on you.

Now is not the time to talk about gun control.

Shouldn’t you be sending your thoughts and prayers somewhere?

Okay fine, you’re here.

Let’s talk about bump stocks, even though now is not the time to talk about gun control.

At ANYTIME, while we’re not supposed to be talking about it, someone can purchase a bump stock, which can make a semi-automatic rifle fire like a fully automatic weapon, all within the confines of the law.

The shooter in Las Vegas had multiple bump stocks to enhance his weapons.

Bump stocks use the recoil of a gun to bump against your body and trigger finger in rapid succession for enhancement. Here’s a video of a bump stock in action. 

They are LEGAL and approved by the ATF.

These devices were pulled off the online shelves by Walmart and Cabela’s in the immediate wake of the incident in Las Vegas.

But let’s not talk about bump stocks and how lawmakers have tried in the past to make them illegal.

Let’s not talk about them now because we should be focusing on the victims who are already dead.

Let’s hope our thoughts and prayers are enough to keep a deranged madman from walking into a shop and getting more bump stocks.

Keep thinking about it.

Keep praying about it.

But don’t talk about it.

There and back again (the anchor chair)

Anchoring a newscast is like being the captain of a ship who takes the wheel after so many talented and hardworking people have toiled all day to make sure the boat is ready for sail.

You’ve got producers, directors, assignment editors, production crew members, etc.

There’s A LOT going on behind the camera.

Viewers are also on the boat. Some are enjoying the ride. Others are picking apart how the captain is turning the wheel and questioning his or her bias to the starboard or port side.

I absolutely love the job. It’s fun, especially when there’s a great crew of people making sure sailing goes smooth.

As I’ve been filling in as an anchor on a temporary basis, some of my old memories of sitting in the anchor chair back in Albuquerque about 12 years ago have been coming to the surface.

Perhaps it’s the scent of a freshly printed stack of news scripts that’s making me remember.

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The KASA Fox 2 set. Year? Oh geez…maybe 2005? 2006? That’s Jessica Kartalija who is now an anchor in Baltimore.

While I had fun anchoring then, it was extremely tough mentally since I had two roles at the same time.

Daily, I had to find a story and report for the 10 pm news on KOB. But before I went live for that report, I anchored the one hour 9 pm newscast on KASA.

I often had to sprint from the set of the 9pm show to another studio for the 10pm show.

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Going live as a reporter minutes after anchoring

My reporting duties and anchoring duties collided, literally at the same time, and I often had to forfeit concentration on one job for the other.

I often read the newscasts cold. I stumbled over words and sentences. I often couldn’t carry a script on air because I had no idea what was coming next. I was new. I was green on the set. Thank god YouTube didn’t exist then.

The gig, while exciting and a great opportunity, also had an impact on my confidence.

I often felt down on myself and second guessed my anchoring abilities, almost nightly.

The stress of trying to be perfect made my performances worse. I often took frustrations out on coworkers and producers who were just trying to beat the clock too.

Looking back at those times, I believe I was too tough on myself given the circumstances.

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Producer Zach Pearl (far right) reviewing my 10pm report just before I had to hit the anchor chair at 9pm. Producer Brian Close on the left is now in Colorado too and works as an attorney. Hi Brian!

I appreciate that experience even more so today. It’s taught me that taking time to craft a news script, even it’s just a 10 second blurb, is extremely important to make it sound concise and clear.

People have been asking me if I enjoy anchoring now that I’ve been filling in temporarily. I really do. I love it, especially with a perspective of being off the desk for the past 12 years or so. Plus I really love the crews I work with. They make the job cake.

It’s an extremely fun position and I’d like to hope my enjoyment for the anchor chair can be seen by people who’ve watched.

Anchors away!

 

All images in this post were taken by Gadi Schwartz who is now a correspondent for NBC News.

How I survive airplane turbulence 

While I may seem calm when turbulence happens, I’m running up and down the aisle of my mental fuselage like a terrified renaissance painting figure while screaming OH MY GOD WE ARE GOING DOWN….THE WINGS ARE GONNA FALL OFF. BYE WORLD. 

Is that flight attendant freaking out? Watch her face….if she looks worried it’s time to accept death. I think she looks worried. Shit. This is it. We’re gonna make the news. My body is gonna be shredded.  

Will a last will and testament survive on this Southwest napkin?

I sat in the worst section to survive this crash. Maybe if I jump before we hit land, I’ll live. 

I’ve been traveling by plane since I was 5 years old and fly often for work and personal reasons, yet there’s something about turbulence that jacks with my instincts. 

I know, thanks to the logical side of my brain, turbulence isn’t dangerous at all. But still, something deep down in my consciousness surfaces with silent terror. 

So how do I live through it? 

Just thinking about turbulence, you say, could make me more nervous, but I like to put on some mental armor before I find my seat. 

Before I fly, usually as I’m waiting in line to board, I read on my phone about how much turbulence planes can handle. 

Turns out it’s a shit ton and planes never really go down or are damaged because of the shitty shakes. 

This is a really good article by a pilot who also breaks down some comforting numbers. I have it bookmarked: 

About sixty people, two-thirds of them flight attendants, are injured by turbulence annually in the United States. That works out to about twenty passengers. Twenty out of the 800 million or so who fly each year in this country. – askthepilot.com

I also drink. Not a lot, but one to two beers just before and during the flight. This really helps me stay calm and feel good. 

The last long flight I took was from Washington D.C. to Denver. As we passed by a storm, the turbulence didn’t feel bad thankfully to some Fat Tires. 

I also try to get a window seat when possible. Focusing on the ground or at least looking outside decreases the sense of doom. An aisle seat might as well be a coffin in my book. 

And lastly, I know this sounds weird, but sometimes I’ll crank up some Rage Against the Machine or Metallica on my headphones. The aggressive music can put me in a tougher mood. 

(This article is not very metal….I know.)

Aside from turbulence, I really enjoy flying and traveling. 

If you’re someone who came across this post while searching about turbulence, don’t sweat it. 

Relax and take it easy. 
You’ll live. 
(I hope so.)